It was with regret that we learnt of the passing of Bill Holmes in early November 2020 at the age of 94.
Bill only spent a short time at Ewood Park, signing as an amateur in September 1951 and leaving at the end of the following season. However, in those two seasons, although far from being a regular in the first team, he proved to be a prolific goalscorer.
Bill was on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers, as an amateur, when he took part in an amateur international trial match at Portman Road, Ipswich on 17th December 1949 when he played for ‘The Rest’ against an England. ‘The Rest’ won 3-1 and Bill notched the final goal for his side. That performance was sufficiently impressive for him to win his first England cap, at amateur level, against Wales at Bangor on 21st January 1950. Bill scored his first international goal the following month when he helped England to a 3-1 win over Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast. In May 1950, Bill was part of an FA Amateur XI that played a series of games in Denmark and Sweden.
In October 1950, Bill signed for Doncaster Rovers, again as an amateur, and made his League debut against Swansea City on 27th January 1951. Although he didn’t score, Bill retained his place for the following week’s meeting with Brentford but a 3-0 defeat proved to be his final appearance for Doncaster.
In September 1951 he joined Rovers as an amateur and made his debut on New Years Day 1952 against Queen’s Park Rangers at Ewood Park. Rovers won 4-2 and Bill scored one of the goals. A strong, forceful player, Bill was a fairly prolific goalscorer during his short time at Ewood Park. During the 1951-52 season Bill scored seven goals in eight League games and a further three goals in four F.A. Cup-ties, including one against Burnley in the 3-1 sixth round win which saw the club reach the F.A. Cup semi-final, despite their second division status.
Bill won the last of his four England amateur caps whilst on the books of Blackburn Rovers when he scored in a 3-1 won over Ireland at Shamrock Park, Portadown on 2nd February 1952.
Bill featured for Great Britain against West Germany in Dusseldorf on 14th May 1952 and was part of a Great Britain side that toured Finland that summer after losing in a preliminary round tie for the 1952 Olympic Games. In the final game of that tour, Bill scored a couple of goals in a 4-3 win over a Vaasa XI.
During his short career at Ewood Park, his twenty-one League appearances brought 16 goals whilst he scored 3 goals in four F.A. Cup-ties. He hit one hat-trick, on 30th August 1952 when he helped Rovers to a 3-1 win over Everton at Ewood Park.
Bill left Ewood Park to join Bradford City, as a professional player, in September 1953. He made his debut against Accrington Stanley, on 26th September 1953 and scored his first goal for his new club on his second appearance, on 30th September 1953 at Wrexham. He stayed at Valley Parade for ten months, flitting in and out of the first team and by the time he left to join Southport, in June 1954, he’d scored 5 goals in 22 League and Cup games for City.
Bill was a schoolteacher in Liverpool whilst playing for Southport for whom he scored 21 goals in 56 League and Cup games. Bill celebrated his wedding day, on 30th October 1954, with a hat-trick for Southport against Carlisle United.
After retiring from football, Bill moved to the Midlands and became a training officer at Boots and later worked as a training manager with Ind Coope. He settled in Nottingham.
The Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association wish to express their deepest sympathy to Bill’s family and friends at this sad time.